Image source: Nestor Galina via Flicker. 

To say the global energy industry is going through a bit of a rough patch would be an understatement. It's going through its worst downturn in decades, which is putting a lot of pressure on oil-field service companies like Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL). That said, as one of the world's largest oil-field service companies, ranking only behind Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) in size, it's weathering the current storm better than most. In fact, its aim is to come out of the current downturn in better shape than it entered. That's a big reason why its working on merging with its rival Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) to create a real bellwether oil-field service giant. 

The problem with that plan is that regulators worry that it will weaken competition in the sector, especially given the pressure that smaller service companies are facing during the downturn. Furthermore, such a merger would widen the gap between the top two players, Schlumberger and the Halliburton/Baker Hughes combo, and current no. 4 Weatherford (NYSE: WFT). In fact, Weatherford's financial condition is such that it's not even planning on bidding for the assets that Halliburton plans to sell in order to win regulatory support for the Baker Hughes merger. 

Suffice it to say, Halliburton's an interesting stock right now with lots of risk but a compelling reward if everything goes according to plan. To learn more about the company and its future, check out the slideshow below.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.